New Zealand-born USA midfielder Paul Lasike is tackled in a game against Canada in 2019.
Paul Lasike – a Kiwi who had two seasons with NFL club Chicago Bears – has been named in the United States’ Rugby World Cup squad alongside former Hurricanes loose forward Tony Lamborn.
Lasike, 29, has been selected as a midfielder after making his USA Eagles debut in 2018.
Auckland-born Lasike, who plays for English club Harlequins, grew up with a dream to play professional rugby.
But he played American football and rugby at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City.
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Paul Lasike now plays in the English Rugby Premiership for London club Harlequins.
Lasike was part of the Chicago Bears’ practice squad between 2015 and played 10 games for them during the 2016 season.
He told The Times in 2018 the NFL “was fricking awesome. It is hard to explain. When you run out it is such a rush. The American culture for sport is on a different level; it is like soccer in South America or here in England.”
Paul Lasike (L) in a NFL game for the Chicago Bears in 2016.
Lasike was cut by the Bears in 2017 and got a job in the construction industry.
He returned to rugby union, playing seven games for the Utah Warriors in America’s Major League Rugby competition before signing for Harlequins in 2018.
Lasike scored a try on his Eagles debut against Chile in the Americas Rugby Championship in 2018 and now has 18 caps.
USA Eagles flanker Tony Lamborn in action against New Zealand Maori in Chicago in 2018.
Lamborn, 28, made his name in New Zealand with the Hawke’s Bay Magpies and starting out in Heartland Rugby with North Otago.
He had four Super Rugby games for the Hurricanes in 2016.
Lamborn, who has an American father, first pulled on the USA jersey in 2016.
He now has 22 caps.
Tony Lamborn at Southland Stags training in 2018.
Last year Lamborn played Mitre 10 Cup rugby for the Southland Stags but he is now part of the New Orleans Gold in Major League Rugby.
The United States’ South African coach Gary Gold has selected 18 forwards and 13 backs for Japan.
“We think that the attrition for this rugby World Cup, especially our pool, is going to take it out of our forwards, so we’ve gone with an extra forward,” Gold said.
”We’ve got good depth in almost every position, I think we’re well covered. Where I think we are very lucky is that we’ve got quite a few guys who can play in multiple positions.”
Three Eagles, including captain Blaine Scully, will be attending their third World Cup tournaments.
The United States are in Pool C alongside England, France, Argentina and Tonga.
AT A GLANCE
United States Eagles Rugby World Cup squad
Forwards: David Ainu’u, Malon Al-Jiboori, Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, Cam Dolan, Dylan Fawsitt, Eric Fry, Hanco Germishuys, James Hilterbrand, Olive Kilifi, Tony Lamborn, Titi Lamositele, Ben Landry, Paul Mullen, Gregor Peterson, Ben Pinkelman, John Quill, Joseph Taufete’e
Backs: Blaine Scully, Nate Augspurger, Marcel Brache, Bryce Campbell, Shaun Davies, Ruben De Haas, Will Hooley, Martin Iosefo, Paul Lasike, AJ MacGinty, Will Magie, Thretton Palamo, Mike Te’o.
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